Washington: Observing that Pakistanis are very much in favor of enhanced economic relationship with India, a top American diplomat stationed in Islamabad has said the country is on the cusp of granting the most favored nation status to its eastern neighbour. "I think that there's been progress in the relationship between Pakistan and India, and as you know, we're on the cusp of Pakistan granting most favored nation status to India. My sense is that most Pakistanis are actually very much in favor of an enhanced economic relationship with India," the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, told a Washington audience on Monday.
Responding to questions in his appearance before a Washington think-tank, Olson said the US would like to see for energy co-operation between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. "I think, from the perspective of the US government, what we would like to see is for the energy supply to run through Afghanistan and through Pakistan to the Indian market," he said, in an apparent reference to the gas pipeline from the Central Asian countries to the massive Indian market.
However, Olson maintained the stand of Obama Administration that the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline is sanctionable under the Iran Act. "I think our position is pretty well-known on Iran in general. We've had a duty to warn our Pakistani friends that the pipeline that's under consideration is likely to be sanctionable under US law. One thing is that Iran has proved to be a less than reliable partner on many such energy projects with other countries," he argued.
As such, the US official hoped that Pakistan will take this as friendly advice from the US, which has been very highly supportive of its energy needs. Olson, in response to another question, said though over of late the Pakistani Army and security forces have been focused on insurgency on its western frontier, the anxiety about it eastern front remains.
"The Pakistani military and the Pakistani government has been very focused over the past few years on the insurgencies, on the threat along the western border in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and they're focusing large amounts of resources there. But I think any military planner will obviously be looking at a variety of things and be looking at conventional threats as well," he said.
"I think that the Pakistanis have been paying attention to developments on the eastern side. Our goal is to make sure that the situation is stable and we actually have confidence in the Pakistani stewardship of their nuclear materials," Olson said in response to a question.